What is diabetes, and why is it important for sexual health?

Diabetes is a condition characterized by elevated serum glucose, resulting from inadequate production of insulin or inappropriate response of the body to normal production of insulin. Over time, high glucose levels lead to serious long-term complications, including cardiovascular disease and damage of the nerves, which are all critical to good sexual health.

What are the sexual complications of diabetes?

The most common complication of the reproductive system in men with diabetes is erectile dysfunction. Up to 75 percent of men who have diabetes experience difficulties achieving or maintaining an erection adequate for sexual intercourse. Often, in patients with latent forms of diabetes, it is sexual dysfunction that is the first sign of the disease. Vascular damage results in impaired blood flow to the penis, and nerve damage affects the neurological mechanisms necessary for the onset of an erection. Another sexual complication of the diabetes is the retrograde ejaculation, occurring when sperm is not expelled through the urethra outside, as usual, but flows into the bladder. The cause of this condition is damage to the autonomic nerves.

Prevention of complications

In order to prevent the development of erectile and ejaculatory disorders, it is extremely important to control the level of glucose and glycated hemoglobin in the blood for both men with diabetes and generally healthy men. Assessment of sexual function is recommended for all patients with diabetes, even before the onset of symptoms.


This content is supplied by the European Academy of Andrology (EAA) through the AndrologyAwareness.eu website, aimed to provides easy access to the information on male reproductive and sexual health to the general population. For more information, go to andrologyacademy.net.  This information has been provided for education purposes only. It is not intended to take the place of a clinical diagnosis or proper medical advice from a fully qualified health professional. The EAA urges readers to seek the services of a qualified medical practitioner for any personal health concerns.

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